Thamanat denies being jailed abroad

Thamanat denies being jailed abroad

Minister threatens to sue opposition MPs for dredging up Australian heroin conviction again

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow has once again denied, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that he was imprisoned for drug trafficking in Australia. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow has once again denied, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that he was imprisoned for drug trafficking in Australia. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow on Thursday threatened to take legal actions against MPs of the disbanded Future Forward Party (FFP) for making false accusations against him during the censure debate.

Thamanat, a key figure of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), was one of six ministers facing questioning in the debate.

He was accused of forging a doctorate degree in public administration and being an influential figure which made him unfit to hold his post. The opposition MPs also raised questions about his wife's transfer of shares to a nominee, saying it was likely done to help the couple conceal their ownership.  

Thamanat said he would file complaints against the speakers in Muang district of Phayao, his home province, after the censure debate finished. He also criticised some opposition MPs for overstepping the mark by prying into his family.

During Thursday's censure debate, Thamanat strongly denied he was imprisoned for heroin trafficking in Australia and noted that the opposition MPs omitted certain information when discussing the drug scandal he was implicated in.

The now-disbanded Future Forward Party this week uploaded a series of Australian court documents related to the case and posted a link on its Twitter account. BBC Thai has also posted an unofficial translation of the Australian court ruling.

He insisted he was charged by Australian authorities with having knowledge of drug activities and for withholding information for which he was detained for four years. He said the case in Australia did not have any bearing on his qualifications as a minister.

At one point in the debate, Natthacha Boonchai-insawat, a list-MP from the dissolved FFP, cast suspicions over the transfer of 500,000 shares by Thamanat's wife, Issara.

According to Mr Natthacha, Ms Issara allegedly transferred 510,000 shares in Talat Khlong Toey 2551 Co to Vipada Muangkhot, who worked in the company's finance unit, in July 2018. The company signed a 10-year contract from 2018-28 with the Port Authority of Thailand to develop a market in Klong Toey.

It was suggested that the share transfer was made in order to ensure that Thamanat would not hold more than 5% of the shares in the company, which would have disqualified him from serving in the cabinet.

Being convicted of a crime also is grounds for disqualification, but Thamanat and his defenders have said that a conviction outside of Thailand does not count.


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